Q: What can I do to keep costs down during my move?
A: If you’re engaging professional movers, you should mention your cost concerns during your initial call with a sales person. Similar to airlines or hotels, many moving companies have a sliding scale of prices that reflect supply and demand on a particular day. Generally, the summer months are the busiest. Saturdays and the beginning and end of each month are busy year-round. The less busy times tend to be Monday through Thursday in the middle weeks of the month. If you are flexible with your move date – an overlap between when you need to be out of your old home and are able to get into your new home helps- you’re certain to get the best value. Additionally, your sales person can provide advice on other cost-saving measures, including efficient preparation in advance of moving day.
Q: Can I keep costs down by having a family member or friend help with the move?
A: Absolutely. Having your friends move you in a rented truck is certainly the lowest-cost option-assuming nothing is broken. If items are damaged, it’s generally difficult to get an insurance carrier to replace them. If you choose to hire professional movers, your friends can be most helpful in preparing for the move–packing boxes, shoveling a pathway in the snow between the moving truck and the door, or caring for your pets or children. On moving day, you should let the professionals handle the job entirely – they are trained and therefore best suited to carry the weight and negotiate the difficult access ways. Remember that you’re paying your moving crew by the hour, and generally speaking, having non-professionals on the job alongside them only slows things down and costs you more in the long run. Also, most mover’s insurance companies will not cover damaged goods if anyone other than the moving company loaded or unloaded them.
Q: How is the cost estimate determined on a local move?
A: Most moving companies base their estimates for local moves on an hourly rate, which includes drive time from the moving company to your original home to your destination and back again to the moving company’s home base. Some customers are surprised by the extent of the drive time costs, which result from the fact that moving trucks can not travel as fast as passenger cars on the highway, and are often excluded from non-truck routes, resulting in longer trip mileage and travel time.
Q: Is labor the only moving cost I will experience?
A: Labor represents the majority of the moving expense. However, you should also budget for packing supplies-boxes, tape, bubble wrap, pads, etc. Most moving companies sell these items to customers for less than the customer would pay at a retail outlet.
Q: Are there any “unexpected” costs I should be aware of?
A: Generally, unexpected costs result from a breakdown in communication between the customer and the moving company. Do not be in a rush when you are booking your move. Taking the time up front to talk to your sales person will make both parties better aware of the situation they will encounter on moving day. For example, have you remodeled your house since you moved in? If so, some of the furniture that went in originally may not come out the same way. Have you purchased any furniture that had to be assembled in your home?
Q: How accurate will the cost estimate for my move be?
A: Most moving companies’ estimates are non-binding. This means the actual cost may vary a little or a lot from the original estimate. The best way to ensure that your move comes in on-target with your estimate is to offer as much information as possible at the time of the estimate. Since costs are projected based on an hourly rate, neglecting to mention a major point of the move at the time of the estimate does not mean that your move will cost less, but rather that your moving crew will be less prepared to do it. They may show up with fewer movers or trucks or equipment than they would have brought had they known up front what the situation would require, which may increase costs. Because you’re paying by the hour, if the move takes less time than was estimated, your actual bill will be reduced accordingly.
Q: Should I tip my movers?
A: Moving is a service industry in which workers are not highly paid. As with wait staff in a restaurant, movers usually rely on tips to supplement their income. There is not a set amount of gratuity expected by movers as there is by servers in restaurants. This is mainly due to the fact that a bill for moving services renderred is typically much larger than a bill you would pay for a meal. No mover would expect to receive 15% of the bill as a tip. On average, a good mover would usually receive about the equivalent of $4 to $5 per hour worked as a tip. On an easy, short move, they might get less while extremely difficult moves often yield bigger tips. If you feel that the job was done efficiently and effectively, you should feel free to tip your movers accordingly.